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Language and Cultural Training for Expat Employees

By | Corporate support, Culture, Expats

Adapting to a new environment can be difficult. You might be moving to the Netherlands with family, alone or maybe you are even moving to another country or overseas for work, it can be a very daunting prospect. However, being prepared will give you the highest chance of intercultural competence which will, in turn, result in a successful relocation.

A study was conducted on the effects of language barriers and cultural shock on the performance of expats in organizations and 67% of the respondents reported that miscommunication and confusion due to cultural differences and language b barriers created inefficiencies in the organization. 40% further stated that all this affected collaboration. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to help you or your company eliminate some of these barriers when it comes to relocating.

The importance of language and culture training for expats

Language and culture training will help minimize some of the challenges described above. It’s also more than just a solution for expatriates, it also poses many benefits for organizations, such as diversifying their skill set.

Cultural training is very important in terms of cultural integration. Even a little grasp of the local Dutch language can play a significant role in helping you get oriented and understand the new culture and your surroundings. We highly recommend people relocating to the Netherlands or any other country to have language and cultural training. Below are 3 steps to help you get started:

1. Assess your cultural and language needs

You need to have an idea of how fluent you are in the new local language, and how fluent you want to be. Cross-cultural training mostly includes a comprehensive language and cross-cultural assessment which will inform the level and content of your training course, a program that will specifically be designed for your needs, and a personalized progress report that reveals how far you’ve come.

In most cases, companies that offer cross-cultural and language learning services will also have other services that are related to international relocation such as translation. It’s not everyone that will have a basic understanding of the new local language and for such reasons, it’s best to seek help from professionals when it comes to translating your legal documents.

2. Learning strategy

Once you have an idea of your language and cultural training needs, you can then go ahead and pair them up with a solution that’ll work best for you. There are two options available:

  • Cultural training and language learning as an employee benefit: This would be good for organizations that recognize the essence of cultural training for their employees, but don’t necessarily require them to do so.
  • Formal language training: This model works best for companies with specific goals that require knowledge of the new local language. For instance, companies that are strategically expanding into new markets abroad.

 3. Finding the right solution

Essentially, there are two options when it comes to cultural and language training. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and the ‘right’ option will largely depend on your desired strategy and needs. The two options are online learning and face-to-face learning.

Face-to-face learning is mostly known as the most effective way to learn due to some of the advantages it comes with such as body language, smiles, and posture that help with communication. These can influence how one’s intentions and speech are perceived. The other benefit it comes with is that there are no delays or lags or any technical interruptions when learning. On the other side of the coin, the programs tend to be a bit pricier than online training programs. There is also a lack of flexibility in terms of location and time.

Online learning relatively makes it much easier for fresh expats to learn the basics of a language, culture, or even conversational phrases. The great thing is that they can also be easily accessible from anywhere, at any time. This would be very ideal for people with busy schedules or people who like things to move at their own pace. There’s so much flexibility when it comes to location and scheduling the training sessions. However, as previously mentioned, sometimes they do come with technological issues such as lag, internet connectivity issues, etc.

For expats, the factors of cultural shock and language barriers should be considered as a factor in their relocation. As much as cultural training is important, language plays a significant role when it comes to cultural integration. When abroad, one may feel lost and baffled by many new things to learn. As such, at Jimble, we always do our best to try and ensure that you have the smoothest move and settle in well when you relocate.

Dutch business culture

Dutch business culture: your guide before your first day in your new office

By | Culture

Have you recently moved to the Netherlands for work and your first day in the office is just around the corner? Are you planning to accept a job offer in the Netherlands or you want to expand your business there? In any case, the Dutch business culture may differ from the one you are used to, and in order to succeed in your career in the Netherlands here are some useful tips about doing business with the Dutch.

1. Directness

One thing that may pop up in your mind when you hear Dutch people is directness. Although we want to steer clear of any stereotypes, you should be prepared for your colleagues’ direct remarks, positive or negative. Dutch people will speak their mind and you should probably do the same if you want to avoid miscommunications. Of course, this directness is not a sign of disrespect, but it is well-intended and honest.

2. Informal Communication Style

What goes hand-in-hand with the directness is the informal communication style. You may be surprised seeing your manager or even CEO interacting in a friendly manner with the rest of the team and being seen as part of it. It is also common to refer to them by their first name and the informal ‘je’.

3. Casual dress code

Business attire can vary depending on the industry, but if you are not working for the government or a higher business circle, even jeans and t-shirts could be an option.

4. Riding the bike to work

You are probably familiar with the stereotype that Dutch kids learn how to ride their bike before learning how to walk. Although this is an exaggeration, it is true that Dutch people are used to riding their bike almost everywhere. Regardless of the weather your Dutch co-workers will most probably ride their bike to work daily and if you are a fan of the healthy lifestyle, this could be your new healthy habit.

5. Lunch breaks

You may also be surprised by this Dutch office lunch habit. Dutch employees usually keep their lunch break very brief, they eat light (even a sandwich or a small salad) and they may even have their lunch behind their desk. At the same time, each company may have its own lunch traditions, which means that while most days the employees are having their sandwich or salad, they are ordering sushi on ‘sushi Thursdays’ or satay on ‘satay Fridays’ etc.

6. The vrijmibo

The vrijmibo or vrijdagmiddagborrel (good luck with pronouncing this) means Friday afternoon drinks and in most Dutch companies it is a must. Dutch people work hard all week and on Fridays they can shut down their computers early and head out to the office kitchen or bar to enjoy some drinks with their colleagues. Even in times of lockdown due to Covid, when many employees had to work from home, online vrijmibo via Zoom meetings became a thing.

7. No extended working hours

Finally, the Netherlands is also known for its work-life balance. Dutch people have structured agendas and at the end of the office hours (usually 5 p.m.) they leave the office in order to be home on time for family dinner, or to go to the gym, hang out with their friends or simply relax at home watching Netflix.

That being said, it should be clarified that work culture can vary between different companies and overgeneralizations should be avoided. We have highlighted the typical Dutch office habits which usually surprise our expat clients but you will always find more interesting and surprising aspects of Dutch office culture.

If you have more office-related or business-related questions or you are simply curious to discover more tips before your first day at work in the Netherlands, Jimble is here to help. Head over to our contact page and schedule an appointment with one of our skilled experts to discuss all your questions extensively.

Further reading:

Multicultural company

6 Reasons why having a multicultural team gives your company a competitive advantage

By | Culture

Cultural diversity is a major asset in the modern business landscape and here is why. We have compiled the top 6 reasons why building a strong multicultural team will give your company a competitive advantage.

1. Diverse Candidate Pool

Diverse workforce means hiring diverse candidates, which gives your company the opportunity to draw on talent from a larger candidate pool of highly skilled individuals. By welcoming employees with diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds you bring a variety of skills and competencies to the table and, consequently, generate better results.

2. Increased Creativity and Innovation 

Diversity delivers creativity to a company and drives innovation due to the wealth of viewpoints and the different perspectives among the employees. Each employee has unique values and ideas, influenced by their culture, and by embracing these differences your company will boost creativity and stimulate the creation of new ideas. 

3. Increased Productivity and Motivation

Evidence suggests that diversity in the workplace increases employee satisfaction and, as a result, a happier workforce is a more productive one. The more the employees feel included and their values appreciated, the higher their motivation and engagement.

4. Enhanced Problem-Solving

All these varied viewpoints and ideas that multicultural teams bring to the table foster problem-solving and maximize decision-making processes. Each team member will have a unique way of approaching problems and providing solutions, which will ultimately benefit your organisation.

5. Gain a better Reputation

By being inclusive, open-minded and by embracing cultural diversity your company will promote a positive image. The increased efficiency of the multicultural teams will generate better results, and better results will also boost reputation.

6. Economic Competitiveness

Finally, these 5 advantages lead to increased efficiency in the workplace which means increased profits for your company. With a diverse and multicultural workforce your company becomes a stronger competitor within the global marketplace.

Interested in hiring international employees and worried about the logistics? We are here to help. Head over to our relocation services page and find out more or get in touch by scheduling a free consultation with one of our experts to discuss your situation. Relocating to the Netherlands has never been easier with Jimble.

Biking Culture in the Netherlands

By | Culture

There isn’t a country in the world that has a cycling culture as we do in the Netherlands. Children here start cycling at a very young age and in a city like Amsterdam, there are actually more bikes than there are people. Cycling is the number one way to get around in the Netherlands.

The Dutch Infrastructure for Bikes

What will surprise most expats is how the Netherlands has amazing infrastructure for bikes. Separate bike lanes are the norm all over the country, and they include traffic lights and many other traffic signs specifically directed toward cyclists.

Drive Your Kids to School on a Bike

It is perfectly normal and acceptable to drive your kids and babies to school or daycare on your bike. Whether they are in a special seat on their parent’s bike or being transported in a “cargo bike”.

Parents don’t use bike helmets and a lot of their children don’t either. The use of bike helmets is not mandatory in the Netherlands, but of course, it is recommended for small children.

Buying or Leasing a Bike?

When it comes to getting a bike to use, there are many options. For first-time bike owners, it would be smart to buy a good second-hand bicycle. If you decide you prefer a more low maintenance option, you can also choose to lease a bicycle in many of the bigger cities. The lease option is also available for companies who would like to offer bicycles as a green and healthy option for their staff to commute to the office.

How to Bike in the Netherlands

As explained, bike culture is huge in the Netherlands. Our children learn how to cycle at a very young age, and most Dutch people are very comfortable using their bikes in traffic. We know this probably isn’t the case for most expats, and therefore we recommend searching for people who can provide cycling lessons to adults.

These lessons are for beginners and advanced cyclists may not necessarily teach you how to bike, but they do teach you how to bike in Dutch traffic. Essentially, they are designed to help you get comfortable in traffic.

How Can We Help?

Are you considering as a relocation to the Netherlands destination for your employees, or for a personal relocation, but don’t know where to start? The Jimble team is happy to provide you with the necessary information and assistance, so don’t hesitate to contact us!

dutch hapiness

Become Part of One of the Happiest Societies on Earth

By | Culture

There is more than one reason why expanding to The Netherlands can benefit your company. We believe that moving your staff to one of the happiest countries in the world is most certainly one of them.

Dutch happiness survey

In the 2020 World Happiness Report (Helliwell et al., 2020), The Netherlands rated the 6th happiest country in the world, of a total of 153 surveyed countries. 

Happiness is quite a complex phenomenon to measure. Everyone experiences happiness in a different way. We have named just a few factors that positively affect the overall happiness on the Dutch work floor.

Working like the Dutch

The Dutch are known for having a no-nonsense and down-to-earth attitude. They appreciate you “just being your own authentic self”. This stimulates an open work culture where communication flows freely between every layer of the organisation’s hierarchy.

Living like the Dutch

The work-life balance tends to be one of the Dutch’ highest priorities. Having a successful career is important and efficiency is highly valued, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of one’s free time. The Dutch make sure to save enough time off for their families, friends and hobbies.

Socializing like the Dutch

Even though the Dutch are dedicated workers, they certainly do appreciate socializing with colleagues and friends after hours. This among other things includes our Friday afternoon drinks with the occasional bitterbal and kaasstengel. This is a common occurrence in a lot of Dutch businesses.

How can we help?

Are you considering a career in The Netherlands? Are you planning on relocating (part of) your staff to The Netherlands? Or would you like to inquire on successfully partnering with Dutch businesses? The Jimble team is happy to provide you with the necessary guidance and assistance. Make sure to check out our e-book or our socials for more information on how we can assist you.

Looking for a home? Need help with your employees? Just let us know how we can help out.

Contact us Frequently asked questions +31(0)20 846 6002